Friday, April 22, 2016

Old Gobbler Hunters-- Old Ways 4/16/2016

Too many hens per gobbler nowadays.             

                          I like it the old way….one gobbler, no hens!

         The old Outdoor Life magazines I bought when I was a young boy sit on my office shelf a reminder of the days when actually living the ‘outdoor life’ was so different than it is today. I picked up a modern-day issue of that magazine recently and I am amazed how different it is now. It was very thin and so absolutely full of advertising, I had to look hard to find a story.  Just like television is today, there is so much advertising I just lose interest.

         I did find one turkey-hunting story though, in that thin little collection of advertising, about how to hunt wild turkeys today as opposed to 30 years ago, as if the bird was a different creature now.  It is what outdoor magazines feel they have to do today…focus on all the new technology and expensive gear. Come up with new ways to do something, even if it is nonsense.  Because the new breed of hunter and fisherman is pretty easy to fool.

         The wild turkey is the same creature today that he was a hundred years ago. The difference is there are so many more of them.  I really think that a flock of turkeys in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, or the Lewis and Clark National Forestland of Missouri, averaged about three hens per mature gobbler, maybe four at times.  

         Now I think there are counties in the Ozarks that have flocks averaging about twelve or fifteen hens per tom.  Well shucks, maybe that’s the future of turkey hunting, learn to call in the hens and get the gobbler when he follows.  That happened to me a time or two over the years. I sold lots of magazine articles to Outdoor Life and Field and Stream over the years but I might not be able to today because I don’t know that I want to write something about new ways you might hunt or fish for something.
 Today’s outdoor magazine readers who are under 40, are really easy to fool. They have money to spend and as a rule, that’s what appeals so much to them, new gear, new gadgets, new methods, tips from the pro’s, advice from the experts.

         I spent many many years guiding hunters and fishermen and though my favorite way to introduce anyone to the Ozarks outdoors was a float trip on a smallmouth stream, turkey hunting was next.  You had your hands full if a client wanted to hunt waterfowl, or go to Canada and catch a big muskie, or see a good bird-dog work grouse or pheasant.  But if you could teach him how to conceal himself and learn to get a gun barrel on a gobbler’s head without spooking him, you’d be a popular and successful guide.

         I can assure you that turkey hunting is the same today as ever. You do not need new gadgets or new methods or a new approach.  The simplicity of it is remarkable. Even if you aren’t an experienced hunter, turkey hunting is simple. You just have to know where they are and you need to be able to hide well and wait. Technology isn’t necessary…patience is. Those are two things I have trouble with, the hiding and the waiting.  I like to explore, not wait. And I don’t like to hide, I want to see that old gobbler when he is strutting toward me a hundred yards away. Often that isn’t being well hidden, and I have paid for that many times.  But there is nothing worse than bringing in a wild turkey that you only saw for a few seconds, only his red and white head sticking above the buck brush.  Heck that’s worse than catching crappie with a broom stick!

         Everything that can be written about turkey hunting has been. I wrote a book about turkey hunting.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  Then you can be an expert too! It’s about my first forty years of turkey hunting an in another forty years I will rewrite it.  I expect it not to change much.  The last time I went turkey hunting was a lot like the first time I went.
         One thing continues to impress me; everything I had on my very first turkey hunt, is all I need today…a homemade call, a full choke shotgun, two or three shells and a camouflaged shirt. Some of the best old time turkey hunters I knew didn’t own camouflaged clothing. They just knew how to hide. It is also important to have two good legs and two good ears and two good eyes. A good sense of smell isn’t needed!

         I notice when I am in the company of today’s experts and calling champions and professionals in the turkey hunting field, how many of them are really hefty.  Photos of turkey hunters from a hundred years ago show men who are so skinny they have enough room in their overalls for a hen turkey to nest in, even with them in ‘em.  Lets just say that today’s turkey hunters eat much much better.  And lots of them do not walk much, --they ride. I suggest that a new way to hunt turkeys might actually involved more walking than riding.

         You will find the best turkey hunting in those places where ATV’s and weekend hunters don’t go.  This I have always found to be true… the more steps you take into the woods, the better the hunting gets! And I have found that often, the best of the hunting is late in the morning too.  That’s where patience comes in and you have to have a singleness of purpose.  You can’t be wondering if the yellow suckers might be shoaling or if it would be a good time to set a trotline.  And it is best if you are one of those fellows who is content to mow the lawn for the first time in June.

         But if you are looking for a new way to hunt turkey gobblers I can’t help you.  The old way is not only the best way; it is a tradition worth holding on to.  Forget the little pop-up blinds and the decoys.  Any one who would hunt turkeys that way might as well shoot one off the roost in the moonlight!

1 comment:

jamie w said...

you might of solved my streak of calling in turkeys and never killin one in all my 25 years lol yesterday morning i had a gobbler commin in across the creek so i posted up in the creek bed and after 30 mins or so i peek behind me over the bank and 5ft away is a hen eating and purring for 45 mins she was there i thought well thats the best decoy right behind me well i sat there for 5mins or so and he gobbled sounded like 30yrds away but i couldn see through the thick stuff but for lil clear batches 20yrds long or so amd i couldn move cause the hen on my shoulder lol and he gobbled 3 more times and i looked back and the hen had disappeared and never heard from the gobbler again then walkin to the car i heard maybe the same one just on the other side of the holler but i was already 20 mins late to work lol and i just wanted to say there is a few and id say a select few and thats sad to have to say young folk that injoy your column i get the cabool enterprise 90% just to read your section thank you for your stories the ozark outdoors have alot to offer people if you get out and take a look